KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Too Many CT Scans; Single Payer Is ‘Best Solution’; WSJ On Wash. State ‘Overregulation’

Chicago Tribune / The Baltimore Sun: Before You Get That CT Scan …
Studies indicate patients are receiving more CT scans than ever before in emergency rooms, hospitals and outpatient settings. This burgeoning application of CT scanning has important implications for patients, diagnostically and in terms of radiation exposure, as well as consequences for the country's overall medical budget (Dr. Cory Franklin, 3/17). 

The New England Journal of Medicine: State-Based, Single-Payer Health Care - A Solution for the United States?
We conducted extensive fiscal, legal, institutional, and stakeholder analyses in Vermont. ... Our findings presented a striking picture. Vermont faces a $150 million budget shortfall. Employers argue that health care costs jeopardize their businesses' financial viability, while families struggle to pay out-of-pocket health care costs. Vermont businesses and workers are unwilling to spend more for health care. On the other hand, Vermonters are also largely unwilling to reduce their level of benefits. ... We found that the system capable of producing the greatest potential savings and achieving universal coverage was a single-payer system (William C. Hsiao, 3/16). 

The Wall Street Journal: The Pro-Diabetes Board
The future tragedies of government health care will include today's many warnings about how it operates in practice. The subsidize-mandate-overregulate insurance model is imploding in Massachusetts. Then there's Washington state, where a government board may decide that modern medicine is too expensive for kids with diabetes. Seriously. In 2006, Washington created a board to scrutinize the cost-effectiveness of various surgeries and treatments, known as the Health Technology Assessment program. At a hearing today, the panel will debate glucose monitoring for diabetic children under 18 (3/18). 

Kaiser Health News: Health Reform's Next Act: A Focus On Achieving Health Equity
Obama is correct to allow states to develop their own strategies for health care reform. But, unfortunately, some states are motivated to act more by budget-balancing pressures than by a desire to improve their residents' health and eliminate health inequities. As the joint center's research on the economic consequences of health inequalities demonstrates, however, there is a steep price to be paid for inaction in the face of need (Brian Smedley, 3/18). 

The Arizona Republic: Alternatives Exist To Radical Slashing
Arizona does not have to perform a major amputation of AHCCCS services. We can find ways to reduce the funding burden without radically cutting a program that covers one in five Arizonans. ... Brewer announced a new plan Tuesday. It would freeze coverage for childless adults enrolled today, phasing out the program as they leave. ... There's another answer. Three major health-care organizations have proposed a special assessment, to be paid by their members, that is structured to cover their initial outlay and bring in federal matching money (3/18).

The Sacramento Bee: Planned Parenthood Sighted In The Culture War Cross Hairs
If I were the communications director for Planned Parenthood, I'd try to persuade the organization to embrace the convention of listing the many important services it provides in reverse-alphabetical orders. This way, the free or low-cost procedures that make up 97 percent of the health organization's offerings – prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, general health care, contraception – would be at the top of the list rather than starting off with the one service that vexes so many: abortion (Esther J. Cepeda, 3/18). 

The Kansas City Star: KC Taxpayers Have Big Stake In Battle Over Health Plan
The current police health plan may be cheaper in some ways - for the police employees. But that also could mean it's too expensive for taxpayers to continue and moving to the city system would be in the public's best interests. ... The city recently prepared a chart that outlines six different steps that could save $1.9 million annually in taxpayer dollars if the police/city joint system moved forward  (3/17).

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